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Next Generation Ideas -

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Next Generation Ideas


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Next Generation Online Civic Engagement - Outreach and Convening

The two questions we seek to answer are:

  • What about today's local online civic engagement is so important that it requires significant initiative to be made far more inclusive of all people and diverse communities?
  • What are the top local next generation online civic engagement ideas that are so important that they should be universal across all communities?

This participatory convening encourages multi-partner, multi-year, multi-funder next generation online "locally everywhere" highly inclusive civic engagement initiatives.

* JULY 2010 UPDATE: This initiative in 2010 is focused on preliminary convening and knowledge sharing via our many P3 related online working groups and not large scale proposal development at this time. Please join the online working groups of interest. Due to a clarification of funder priorities, work concentrated on our very successful Inclusive Social Media effort. This still needed initiative may be restarted with future interest.

The Proposed Process

Our open, accessible, and technology-enhanced transparent process will "walk the talk" of what we suggest should exist in governance and communities. We seek an effective and powerful outcome, not simply to be efficient.

We seek to ensure that the interested public, open government advocates, and democratically spirited elected/government officials have a seat at the technology development table. How might their articulation of engagement and transparency problems needing solutions shape online "feature" priorities?

Connecting the emerging generation of public-spirited technologists with those working deeply in the world of civic engagement and open government is a primary goal of this initiative. We perceive an opportunity to build a bridge which will significantly improve the contributions of both constituencies to local communities and democracy.

1. Gather big ideas

Generate a list of 25+ local next generation online civic engagement ideas with concise descriptions.

We will both update draft features from our widely circulated Participation 3.0 discussion draft and gather new ideas via an initial participation online survey.

We seek technology-enhanced democratic ideas that should be universal to all local communities NOT simply new or untested ideas. We seek to pilot both tested and new ideas that have a strong potential with the largest percentage of "e-citizens" possible in selected local communities. Based on what actually works, over multiple years we will then spread, promote, or develop the mechanisms to take models that demonstrate results universally to all local communities.

Further notes on defining next generation online civic engagement are available.

2. Convene, engage, and gather input

What online citizen participation and government transparency needs/features do different constituencies seek?

Where do priorities match up?

How can we promote collaboration and the dedication of resources required to implement?

Our three main national audiences to engage are:

  • Democracy builders - Civic participation, deliberative democracy, and open government leaders
  • Government - Local elected officials and civil servants
  • Technologists - Software developers, designers, social media experts, etc.

Within Minneapolis pilot city specifically, and Minnesota generally:

  • Minneapolis stakeholders across the three sectors above
  • Our thousands of "e-citizen" Issues Forums participants, especially in our target Inclusive Social Media neighborhoods

Convening and engagement will be done online using webinars and online groups as well as in-person tied to existing events like CityCamp, TransparencyCamp, and more.

We will work to determine which ideas resonate and inspire - particularly those that are a priority among different audiences (something for example both highly desired by local elected officials and technologists, etc.).

3. Select top ~10 ideas

The top ideas will be then outlined in detailed one to two page outlines based on common format for feedback from review audiences. These ideas will then be circulated informally to potential funders as well as technologists, open source communities, and companies.

In some cases, third party tools will already exist and the "Participation 3.0" goal will be to bring the idea to the largest possible percentage of the public in a test community to determine its effectiveness before seeking to push it universally to all communities.

4. Key ideas developed into full multi-year, multi-funder, multi-partner grant proposal(s)

As 2010 comes to a close, we will further develop the best ideas into full proposals with detailed goals and deliverables, cost estimates, implementation options and key partners. Proposals will be submitted to potential funders as part of multi-year, multi-funder full Participation 3.0 initiative.

While Minneapolis and potentially other Minnesota communities are serving as our initial national local test market, we are interested in working with other interested pilot communities who can demonstrate an ability to raise complementary local resources. Please nominate your community:

5. Funded features include participatory open source-style open specification process

If funded, our open specification process will be initiated to fully spec out the effort/feature/tool/web site in a transparent and open manner. This innovative will fund collaboration toward an agreed outcome instead of approaching a funder with a pre-selected locked in vendor and no flexibility to execute the effort smarter, faster, or better based on the interest it generates.

This process will be tested in 2010 with our Public Meetings effort. We seek to test this model and expect that many feature ideas will actually come to independent fruition by bring local online civic engagement challenges to technologists inspired and able to implement/contribute solutions along the way - sometimes without significant funding.

6. Competitions/competitive bidding for many features

For major ideas requiring extensive development, we will explore options for competitive/collaborative bidding among open source development communities to implement specifications as well a lead partner organization to host the project as required. In addition, many smaller ideas may be ripe for competitive "App" contests.

Further Background

We currently have funding for a deep focus on gathering input from Minneapolis as a "national test bed" and are interested in funding that will allow us to engage St. Paul and Greater Minnesota. With our growing neighborhood Issues Forums network and the potential of electronic block clubs we can reach a greater percentage of the public with online civic engagement than just about anyone in the world.

Most good ideas need real people to test them out - we have the actual critical mass of "e-participants" and you have the ideas/tools/resources ... so let's connect these strengths and discover what really works and can be technologically designed to roll out nationally or globally for local communities everywhere or what needs to simply be done one community at a time by documenting and spreading best practices.

Prioritizing Ideas

During the first quarter of 2010 we will begin gathering the best ideas from existing experiments on a global basis. An extensive list of ~25 big local online civic engagement ideas/services/etc. will be compiled and circulated for input to determine the top ~10 ideas with various constituencies (e.g. an idea that serves the online engagement needs of local elected officials, one that resonates strongly with local active citizens or immigrant communities active on our Issues Forums, etc.) for further development. The top ideas will be detailed in one-two page documents for broad input before being shaped into full proposals for funding.

The Public Meetings project is a prototype idea that will test our open source style collaboration process about project definition, specifications, and more competitive and open interaction with multiple open source communities to determine the best route(s) to implement.

Our first national convening effort will assist the CityCamp gathering in Chicago in late January, 2010. In Minneapolis, we are convening local technologists interested in open government at the civic hackathon in December 2009.


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